Woe is the life of the suburban black kid. He’s always put in the position of being too “white” for the black mainstream, and too “black” to fully assimilate into white mainstream culture. Sure, suburban black kids have survived to create wonderful music (Pharrell is the best example of this), but unfortunately, it seems that they will never be considered a true “hip-hop” artist.
Which brings us to the predicament of K-OS. Recently dissed at a SummerJam concert by fellow Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall, for lacking the aforementioned “street cred,” the artist found himself in a bind. Does he try to be more “hip-hop,” to get the respect of the streets, or does he venture into the “pop” territory to get more critical acclaim and notoriety.
On his third album, Atlantis, K-OS chose the latter. Although his previous efforts, although eccentric, had a basis in hip-hop, the artist goes even more left field. If you’re a “true hip-hop” fan then this may be a hard pill to swallow. Said “true hip-hop” fans are already grieving over Andre 3000’s trek into pop territory, one listen to this album might send them into cardiac arrest.
For the rest of us though, a listen to Atlantis will reveal a decent, if not brilliant album. The production is heavy on 80’s claps and 50’s R&B in addition to the familiar dub reggae and acoustic elements are staples in any K-OS production. Tracks like “Mirror in the Sky,” “Sunday Morning,” and “Flypaper,” mixes these sounds like a smorgasbord, producing something along the lines of, “danceable pop.” On one level, most of these tracks are borderline corny, but after awhile they get into your head and make you want to jump on the table and do the Carlton dance. Is that bad?
However, contrary to popular belief, K-OS does rap on this album, albeit on three songs. On the first single, “The Seekwill,” K-OS’s rhymes are again….corny. However, on “Aqua City Boy,”” the dude throws down some bars and even bigs up his supposed arch nemesis Kardinal. It’s enough to show that the he can spit, but probably not enough to satisfy the haters.
The standout track on this song is definitely “Highway 7,” a soulful acoustic track that has already made some peoples top 10 lists. Think Wyclef at the end of The Score and you have the idea from this track.
The verdict: Fans of K-OS’s previous work might be in for a disappointment, as Atlantis doesn’t even come close to Exit or Joyful Rebellion (If you’re a new listener, I strongly suggest you pick up these two albums first). And after a few listens, the tracks get old real quick. However, K-OS is a talented and versatile performer, and Atlantis shows that he’s going to do is own thing whether you like it or not.
Previous: Album Preview: K-OS – Atlantis